Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Watching the Rut

At this time of year we tend to avoid walking in the wilder parts of the Estate's land as, while we're not aware of casual walkers getting into trouble with irritable stags, the rut is a time of male testosterone and bad tempers, so movement has to be circumspect.  That said, today we made an exception, walking up into an area where we were fairly certain we'd encounter the rut in action.

We'd hardly left the car when we bumped into a herd of about thirty hinds who....

....were part of the harem of this fine male, who was worried by the calls of another stag we couldn't see, away to our left.

This turned out to be two young stags, of which this is one, who seemed more intent on bothering the old boy than actually challenging him.

Having approached a herd too close by accident, we moved to work our way round the side of the animals and, once well clear, proceeded on up the hill, where we....

....almost bumped into another young stag who was in the company of a small group of females. At the same time, we were aware from his roaring of....

....a much larger stag on the hill opposite who had collected himself a very impressive retinue of ladies.

To our surprise, the young male steadily made his way towards the large male, so we positioned ourselves on a convenient knoll to watch what happened.

The action didn't last long. The young male drew closer and closer to the larger herd until the big stag saw him. There was no confrontation, the younger stag quickly turning tail and running away with the big male in pursuit.  In the process, the older male came across....

....two of the hinds which had been with the younger male, which he herded back to his group.

For the next half hour we watched the big stag - he's at top right in this picture - as he walked around checking his ladies and roaring, and regularly setting off in chase of challengers. There were at least three of these, the first one to the left, another to the right and below him, and at least one more over the hill beyond him.  Just watching him was exhausting. How he kept up this pace, day after day, is beyond me.

When we left him he'd just been over the brow of the hill to see off one of his rivals, only to return to find his ladies scattered.

If you want to watch the rut with experts, try Wild Highland Tours - link here.


  1. Sounds entertaining Jon.
    Watching all that testosterone, short tempers and machismo flying about with younger stags challenging the old guts.
    Sounds just like an average day in Marbella or perhaps PMQ'S in Parliament.
    Peter C

  2. That's a really interesting post with great pictures. Thanks.

  3. Yes, Peter, it made me quite glad that I'm old and past it all.

    Thank you for your comment, Michael. It was fascinating to watch.


  4. Hello Jon, Wonderful time of the year, and well captured in these fantastic photographs, love the Rutting Season, very interesting, Alan

  5. Wow so much action in the hills!